Our projects are designed to empower policy makers to create positive change. With a focus on collaboration and outreach, we provide original, standards-based research on key policy issues.
SCEPA joined with the Economic Policy Institute on Capitol Hill to brief congressional staff and policy experts on tax expenditures, or incentives given through the tax code without scrutiny by Congress.
SCEPA economists are working on the prospects for a more progressive economic order to emerge from the shock of the recession. They have published papers and documents that place current events in a longer-term context as well as policy proposals to deal with short-term concerns. They are also documenting the emerging discussion of how the discipline of economics is reacting to the Great Recession and the questioning of conventional economic analysis.
Lance Taylor, a SCEPA Faculty Fellow, presents an overview of his new book, Maynard’s Revenge, in a Google Tech Talk.
The book, published this November by Harvard University Press, is a timely analysis of mainstream macroeconomics, posing the need for a more useful and realistic economic analysis that can provide a better understanding of the ongoing global financial and economic crisis.
The government spends $143 billion through tax breaks in an effort to expand pension coverage and security. Yet, over half of the American workforce does not have a pension. Retirement insecurity hurts business plans, workers’ lives and retiree well-being. Reform is needed.
SCEPA’s Guaranteeing Retirement Income Project, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and in collaboration with Demos and the Economic Policy Institute, has a plan to guarantee safe and secure retirement income for all Americans.
- Published on Thursday, April 28, 2011
by Jeff Madrick, SCEPA Senior Fellow
The current public discourse over cutting the federal budget is not about economics, but politics. Nothing is so striking as the fact that those seriously disturbed by a rising budget deficit and a growing debt-to-GDP level have so little to say about raising taxes—or if they do, it is with little conviction.
To the contrary, most of the officially sanctioned plans include tax cuts as a major component. How can this be? Surely, the great advocates of reducing budget deficits, such as the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, should be highly visible advocates of tax increases. If they are not—and they are not—they should justify their position.
The main exception is the refreshing budget recently released by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a truly enlightened effort to raise taxes judiciously, reform healthcare, and increase public investment.
- Published on Wednesday, April 27, 2011
by Christian Proaño, Assistant Professor of Economics, and Laura de Carvalho, SCEPA Research Assistant
It is undeniable that the U.S. sovereign debt-to-GDP ratio should be reduced from its current level of nearly 95% over the medium-run. However, an overly hasty reversal of the U.S. fiscal stance based primarily on government spending cuts could be counterproductive given the fragile situation of the U.S. economy. In short, the main priority of the Obama Administration should be the consolidation of the nascent economic recovery.
There are two main arguments for a sharp reduction in government spending to restore fiscal sustainability, private investment, and economic growth...
- Published on Thursday, April 21, 2011
New York City Comptroller John Liu issued a new analysis of NYC pension costs, The $8 Billion Question: An Analysis of New York City Pensions Costs over the Last Decade, that reveals how poor market performance is the biggest factor in the escalation of pension costs.
Comptroller Liu requested the study to examine the steep rise in annual employer contributions to the Pension Funds over the past decade. Pension cost rose from $1.2 billion in Fiscal Year 2001 to $7.7 billion in Fiscal Year 2010. The study was validated by independent actuaries. The study found that escalation in the employer contributions to the City's Pension Funds was driven by the following major factors:
1. The largest factor was poor market performance which accounted for 48% of the increased cost. It added $3.1 billion to costs in FY 2010, and accounted for $15.2 billion over the decade. The lower investment returns this decade stand in contrast to the consistent higher annual returns experienced in the 1980s and 1990s.
2. The second-largest factor was benefit increases, which accounted for 44% of the additional cost. It added $2.4 billion in FY 2010, and accounted for an estimated $13.7 billion over the course of the decade. It must be noted that almost all of the benefit improvements were enacted in 2000. The benefit improvements enacted after 2000 have been relatively nominal, accounting for about 4% of the increase in pension cost.
3. The next largest factor was actuarial losses and revisions in actuarial assumptions and methods, due to a variety of factors including increased longevity, salaries, overtime, disability, early retirement, and buy-backs of service. It added $790 million in FY 2010, and totaled nearly $1.7 billion, or 5%, over the 10-year period.
4. The last major factor was higher than expected investment and administrative fees, which added $313 million to expenses in FY 2010, and totaled $982 million, or 3%, during the decade.